Haslam’s Proposed Meth Crackdown In Flux As House, Senate Bills Diverge

Law enforcement officials have asked legislators for years to make it harder for people cooking meth to get its key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, by requiring a prescription for it.  But pharmaceutical companies have argued doing so will make it harder for law-abiding customers to access their products. (Image: flickr/sfgamchick)

Law enforcement officials have asked legislators for years to make it harder for people cooking meth to get its key ingredient, the cold medicine pseudoephedrine, by requiring a prescription for it. But pharmaceutical companies have argued such a move would make it harder for law-abiding customers to access their products. (Image: flickr/sfgamchick)

A state Senate committee Tuesday night approved four different proposals to crack down on the state’s meth problem, while voting 5-3 to kill a rival measure that advanced last week in the state House.

Several officials at the meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee suggested a comprehensive plan will come together once the bills arrive in the Senate Health Committee.  It’s not clear what the end product will look like, or what shot it has of attracting House support.

One Senate bill moving forward would let cities and counties require prescriptions for the cold medicine used to make meth.  Another, tweaking a proposal from the governor, would dramatically limit how much can be bought.  See also: requiring prescriptions statewide, albeit maybe from a pharmacist instead of a physician.

Senator Ferrell Haile, a semi-retired pharmacist himself, hopes people will embrace the idea of an on-the-spot prescription from a pharmacist.  He says right now many tend to think “doctor’s prescription, co-pay, day off work to go to the doctor.  They haven’t grasped hold of this pharmacist’s prescription concept yet.”

Stepping out from the meeting Tuesday evening, an official from the pharmaceutical lobby was not pleased with the proposed restrictions moving forward, preferring the looser limits of the bill that the committee killed.  Its sponsor on the House side, Rep. Tony Shipley, afterward called the Senate’s more restrictive approach a “non-starter.”

Last week the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, which is chaired by Shipley, moved his bill out, while postponing until its last meeting this spring the four bills now moving in the Senate, making it unclear what to expect next, or where a compromise might emerge.

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